There are plenty of choices but one may be better for you than all the others.
If you’re cutting the cable cord you have a decision to make: which streaming service will you go with? Just to be clear, if you drop cable or satellite you’ll need to subscribe to one of the live TV streaming services to watch the shows and channels you find on cable. You won’t find those on Amazon Prime, Netflix or basic Hulu.
The choices are between Hulu plus Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Fubo TV or Philo. There are a couple of others but these are the most popular and will do for this review. These services offer many of the channels you’re accustomed to watching on cable or satellite but each one has its own lineup of offerings. The interface is all different and the number of screens you can watch at once may differ as well. Some include local network channels and PBS while others do not.
This is not a comprehensive look but I have put together a Google Doc that lists every channel offered by these streaming services along with other features and details. You’ll find that list here for downloading and printing.
When I cut the cord last summer I tried all of the major services with the exception of Fubo and Philo because neither of those offers ESPN which is a requirement for a sports fan like myself.
YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV and Sling all have ESPN and many news channels
YouTube TV is the most popular service and I know many friends who subscribe to it and are very happy. It has many of the channels my family watches including ESPN, AMC, TBS, and even MLB Network. It does not offer History Channel or A&E which we watch frequently. YouTube TV allows 3 streams simultaneously and there’s unlimited DVR storage. The interface is easy to navigate making it a favorite option. It’s also a little cheaper than Hulu Plus Live TV.
After trying out YouTube TV and subscribing to PS Vue (which shut down January 2019) I subscribed to Hulu Plus Live TV. It has its pros and cons. Namely, it has the channels my family watches most often including A&E and History Channel. But it does not have MLB Network and with baseball season approaching we may very well switch to YouTube or Sling’s Total TV package. Hulu is $60 a month after taxes. It includes local channels but only allows for 2 streams on 2 devices simultaneously. That’s a negative for a family with multiple TVs in the house.
One bonus for Hulu is that it comes with Hulu’s Netflix-type streaming service with movies, original programming, and TV shows. Hulu also has an impressive on-demand service.
Trying to understand how the packages work on Sling TV is as confusing as the second season of Stranger Things. There’s an Orange package, a Blue package and a combination of the two. The Orange & Blue package is $45 a month, so it’s a bit cheaper than YouTube TV but the downside (for me) is that it does not include the SEC nor ACC Networks for college sports. Sling did recently add Fox News to the lineup. Trying to decipher the Sling website to learn how many simultaneous streams is nearly impossible but I understand if you have the Orange & Blue package for $45 you can watch on up to 4 devices at the same time. It gets confusing though because one of them has to be a channel on the Orange plan.
Sling also has a total TV package for $70 that adds sports, kids, news and lifestyle channels along with additional DVR storage and more streams. This package most closely resembles the satellite subscription offering I was accustomed to.
Fubo TV has an impressive 100+ channel lineup and includes channels the others do not such as The Weather Channel. It also includes some local channels. Where Fubo TV falls short for sports fans is that there is no ESPN or any Disney properties. If you’re not needing those channels Fubo TV is a good deal and has more channels than the others for just $55 a month.
Philo is the cheapest service I have found at just $20 a month for 59 channels. It has most all of the major cable networks with the exception of Bravo (my wife’s favorite channel). It also includes History Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, OWN, DIY and HGTV. It doesn’t have any sports channels though and no local channels. If you need basic cable with no sports or if you’re just looking to save the most money but still get some channels, Philo may be your choice.
Cutting the cable cord is not easy and picking a service isn’t a pleasant experience if you have several people in your home with different tastes in shows and channels. The good thing is you can sample them as they all offer a free trial.